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Back in business? Not by a long shot

The state government’s insistence that work has been formally resumed at Mantralaya is increasingly turning out to be an eye wash, as reports indicate that three gutted departments which oversee all-important public issues crucial to the state — Home, Revenue and Urban Development — are completely nonfunctional, in the absence of basic infrastructure at their newly designated temporary offices.


GT hospital: Work of setting up basic office infrastructure was in progress, with no employees reporting to work. Pic/Shadab Khan

Well-placed sources at Mantralaya revealed that operations at these departments are paralysed, with confusion and apprehension reigning over the impending move to temporary offices outside Mantralaya, while the permanent chambers are repaired.


Cooperage telephone exchange: Officials of the Urban Development department have been asked to move in to the vacant premises in the Cooperage Telephone Exchange, but when MiD DAY visited the building we found that chairs and tables were still being laid out in the premises. Pic/Suresh KK

As expected, bureaucrats from the dispossessed departments are jostling each other as they vie for offices closer to Mantralaya, to avoid long commutes during the approaching monsoon session of the state legislature.

The Home department, which controls law and order as well as policing in the state, and the Revenue department, which is in charge of the revenue machinery including collectorates and duty offices, have both been moved to the World Trade Centre (WTC).

When MiD DAY visited the site yesterday, it appeared to be anything but a working day — labourers were still struggling to put basic office infrastructure like chairs and tables in place.

An official working with the Revenue department confirmed this, saying, “The officials working with the Home and Revenue departments had even gone to WTC on Monday morning to resume work. However, we were not allowed to go up. After that, confusion reigned among officials about where they had to report. Eventually, most of them dispersed.”

Officials also revealed that strong dissent has been brewing amongst officials working for the two departments, who are unhappy at being moved to the WTC, which is relatively far from Mantralaya as well as the Vidhan Bhavan, where the monsoon sessions of the State Legislature will be conducted. Moreover, WTC is quite a distance away from each of the important railway stations, CST and Churchgate.

An official working with the Home department said, requesting anonymity, “Working from the WTC would be a costly affair for the employees, as they have to shell out much more money to commute to and from Mantralaya and Vidhan Bhavan during the monsoon session of the state legislature. Mantralaya has no bus service in place to ply employees between these far-flung offices. Moreover, employees enjoy the benefit of subsidised food at Mantralaya, which is absent at WTC. The area around WTC wears a deserted look in the evening, and the frequency of public transport services is comparatively poor.”

Officials of the Urban development department, which has various civic issues — town planning, municipal bodies, CIDCO, MMRDA — under its purview, has been shifted to vacant premises in the Cooperage Telephone Exchange. MiD DAY’s visit to the site revealed that here too, none of the bureaucrats or their staffers had reported to work. Chairs and tables were still being laid out.

A similar sight was witnessed at GT hospital, where work of setting up basic office infrastructure was in progress, with no employees reporting to work.

A PWD official at the site said, “We are installing the basic amenities like chairs and other furniture at the site and workers have been employed to do the needful. However, no Mantralaya workers have yet moved in.” Sources at the Mantralaya claimed that none of the departments were willing to shift to GT hospital, as it is located quite a distance away from Mantralaya.  

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